And you thought all you needed was cycling…

5 May

Ben Spies might have his own professional cycling team, but it goes to show that cycling can’t be the cure-all for motorcycle fitness.

Spies cycling

Cycling won’t help a weak shoulder. Photo courtesy of

After off-season shoulder surgery to repair an injured rotator cuff, Spies raced in Qatar and again in Austin. However, it now appears now that Spies will miss the Jerez race due to chest and back pain from racing with an injured shoulder.

In the rehabilitation world, we call these “compensations.” Spies’ back and chest have had to work overtime on the bike due to the shoulder being unfit for racing. You’ve been on the track before. You know how much effort it takes to move that bike from side to side and remain stable during braking. There are exercises that can be done to maintain rotator cuff strength and maintain proper muscular balance to ensure that every muscle does it’s job.

And then there’s Dani Pedrosa who was having muscle cramps in his left triceps during the second half of the race. Again, although as racers we’re taught to maintain a certain level of softness on the handlebars and let your legs do the work of grasping the bike, the upper body plays an enormous role in riding a motorcycle fast.

Pedrosa would later state that conditioning is to blame for his cramping.

So what can you do to address these two areas of weakness?

For rotator cuff strength we can do what’s called the “Shoulder Matrix.” Lie face down on a flat bench or floor and make a “Y” with your arms, keeping your elbows straight. Next put your arms out to the side and make a “T” with your body. Next bend your elbows to 90-degrees and have your palms facing down. If lying on the ground, lift your arms off hte ground. Then slide your arms up over your head until your elbows are straight. Then return to the starting position.

Work hard at pulling your shoulder blades down toward your lower back. This turns on the lower traps which are VERY important for keeping the shoulder blade (scapula) in proper sequence with the upper arm. The movement of the arms trains the rotator cuff to help keep you injury free!

Now how do we train the triceps for the demands of motorcycle racing? Push-ups should be in every riders exercise tool box. Why?

stability ball pushup

Pedrosa should have been doing these between practice sessions. Photo:

Pushups train the chest, abs, shoulder stabilizers, triceps, and even quads. They really are that amazing! But for our purposes, we’ll add a little twist to our pushups. Try them on a stability ball and see how much extra work your chest and triceps have to do! Now if you’re hesitant about falling on your face or you’re just not quite confident of your ability to do a pushup on a ball, then don’t worry. Just do them from the ground but move your hands a little closer together! Aim for 3-sets of 20 reps and see how much of a difference it makes in YOUR riding!


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